Prinnie Stevens presents Lady Sings the Blues Volume 2 opens with Stevens singing “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown. As she closes out the final notes of the song, she proclaims to the audience that it’s a woman’s world tonight. That sets the tone for the rest of the evening.

The show is Stevens’ ode to the female musicians who shaped the music industry in genres like blues and soul, which inspired her to pursue a career in music in the first place. It’s a night of feminist anthems, and this is important to Stevens, who discusses the struggles of needing to feel perfect in the world as a woman — something with which she and her mother grappled.

However, Stevens doesn’t tell us too much about her own life, only that she found Gospel music through going to church. She keeps the spotlight on the icons: Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse and more.

The Kingfisher in Gluttony is an intimate space. Although it was a tight squeeze as patrons were ushered in and tucked next to strangers on this sold-out night, the venue embodies qualities of a smooth jazz bar hidden in underground New York — a fit for the show’s vibe.

The fact that the audience is so close to Stevens in proximity only highlights the power of her talent. She moves around the stage holding her classic retro microphone and effortlessly changes from different vocal ranges in a way that sends shivers down the spine. Hers is a powerhouse voice, suited to the calibre of artists she covers.

Stevens warms to audience members as the show proceeds. She also lets a passerby peeping his head into the tent come in and enjoy the show despite not buying a ticket. Apparently it’s “always the men” who do things like that.

The highlight was her rendition of “The Best” — the second to last track on her setlist. Stevens explains how Tina Turner had to start her career from scratch after divorcing her husband/musical partner. She chants the song expressively and has the crowd clapping with every beat.

The 60-minute show transported us into Stevens’ orbit, and her enchanting voice left us wanting more. Lady Sings the Blues Volume 2 illustrates why the simplicity of a piano, double bass and voice can be so powerful, and why these singers with influential, feminist anthems will live on as legends forever.

Prinnie Stevens presents Lady Sings the Blues Volume 2 at the Kingfisher at Gluttony until February 25. Read InReview’s recent interview with Stevens here.

Read more 2024 Adelaide Fringe coverage here on InReview.

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